Handheld Clients: For users, BlackBerry's features look big

BlackBerry 7510

Company: Research In Motion Ltd., Waterloo, Ontario, www.rim.net.

Nutshell: Handheld device with always-on wireless capability, a walkie-talkie feature, secure communications and a host of application support.

Price: $250 for government agencies.

Why it won: Adds security and new features to a proven mobile-access product.

The BlackBerry 7510 adds always-on connectivity to a host of other functions.

Henrik G. de Gyor

If you need to be in two places at the same time, Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry 7510 can help you get there.

The 7510's secure, wireless communications give users always-on connections to their office e-mail and data whether they are across town or across the country. If you get an e-mail message at your office, it shows up immediately on the BlackBerry.

According to Eric Drenckpohl, GIS manager in the Department of Information Systems for Snohomish County, Wash., 'BlackBerry dramatically improves productivity by removing time and distance barriers to key decision-makers throughout Snohomish County. This anytime, anywhere access allows us to deliver truly excellent customer service to our citizens.'

Security also is paramount, and the BlackBerry 7510 has end-to-end Triple Data Encryption Standard capabilities as well as FIPS-140-2 certification and support for Secure Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions security standard.

The 7510's phone features operate on Nextel Communications Inc.'s digital network, which let users instantly communicate from coast to coast in the continental United States. This also extends to Nextel's Online Wireless Web as well as Direct Connect, a digital walkie-talkie service.

Two new features in the BlackBerry 7510 include a speaker function that lets users communicate in a hands-free manner and a detailed color display capable of producing 65,000 colors.

Cradle-free wireless e-mail synchronization adds to its wireless potency. And integrated e-mail attachment viewing now includes Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe Portable Document Format, Corel WordPerfect and ASCII files.

All the features run on a Java 2 Micro Edition operating system that takes up little space and power, allowing more room for the integration of a QWERTY keyboard and an intuitive user interface.

Besides running a Java OS, another factor that sets the Waterloo, Ontario, company's handheld apart is its ease of use. The e-mail, phone and systems management server applications all originate from a single integrated address book and inbox. As a result, users can simply click on a telephone number, e-mail address or URL in the message to make a call, compose an e-mail or check a Web site.

Likewise, a track-wheel on the side of the device simplifies navigating from option to option or scrolling through an e-mail message.

The unit lists at $350, but the government price drops to $250, half the price of most comparable devices, particularly when considering the handheld has 16M of flash memory plus 2M of synchronous RAM. The price isn't the only thing that's small about the 7510'it weighs only 5.85 ounces and measures a mere 4.5 by 2.9 by 1 inches.

With integrated support for e-mail, phone, organizer, Internet and intranet applications, plus Nextel's Nationwide Direct Connect digital walkie-talkie service, the 7510 crams a lot into a small package.

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